I know I’ve been posting very infrequently on here lately. These last few months have been filled with reflection, planning, and asking questions. Where are we headed and what are we doing? I’ve been quiet on all social media as we try to find our footing and take our next steps, but I knew I needed to put together one last recap video to commemorate our final year on the boat. If you want to watch them all in order, here is 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. 2021 marked 5 years with our beloved Story Time, and it astounds me to see how much we accomplished and the life we built together.
There will be some new developments and projects in store for 2022. I’m excited for them, even though they are not boat related. I’m hoping for career pivots and fresh challenges, so stay tuned. I’ll post more in the new year, and much more often from now on! Thanks, guys.
Then look no further than our 2002 Catalina 380 SV STORY TIME!
Our listing is live on Bay Harbor Brokers! Please check it out and spread the word! She has been loved and lived in for the past four years. She has been an integral part of our family, housed my babies, and kept us safe on so many adventures.
A quick peek at some of the details:
Sails and Rigging
Z-Spars deck stepped double spreader mast
In Mast mainsail furling
Garhauer mainsheet traveler system
Schaefer marine roller furler for genoa
Adjustable Garhauer genoa cars
Secondary movable Garhauer genoa cars
Secondary genoa halyard
All control lines run into cockpit
Lewmar Ocean Series 54st 2 speed winches for genoa
Lewmar Ocean Series 40st 2 speed winches for main/halyards
Raymarine ST-60 Speed
Raymarine ST-60 Depth
Raymarine ST-60 Wind
Raymarine ST-5000 Autopilot Controller
Raymarine RL-70C Chartplotter/Radar
Raymarine Radar mounted on mast
Standard Horizon Intrepid VHF t Nav Station
Standard Horizon remote ram mic at helm
Raymarine ST-60 Multi at Nav station
Blue Seas Tank monitor system
West Marine FM/AM/CD player
Princess 3 burner oven
West Bend built in microwave
Large double Stainless Steel sink
Built in garbage can w/ access in counter top
Large ice box w/ drain
Large front load/top load refrigerator/freezer
New Dometic refrigeration system (2020)
2 X 30 amp shore power inlets on transom
2 X 30 amp power cables
Separate 120v breaker panel in cockpit locker
2 X Solar panels
Xantrex 2000 inverter/charger
3 AGM house batteries (2018)
16500 BTU Mermaid AC/Heat (2019)
Koolair raw water AC pump (2020)
West Marine 60psi fresh water system pump (2021)
Stainless steel transom mounted dinghy davits
Solar panels mounted above dinghy davits
Large sugar scoop transom w/ hot/cold shower
Large fold up swim ladder on transom
Dodger/Bimini/Connector w/ full zip on screen enclosure
Full lifeline netting
Mercury 4hp Dinghy motor (2011)
Zarcor companion way doors (2017)
Ditch kit (2020)
Anchoring & Mooring
Bruce 66lbs anchor
Delta Fast-Set Anchor
150ft 5/16 anchor chain
Assorted dock lines & fenders
Yanmar model 3JH3E 39hp
Engine exhaust mainfold replaced (2017)
Stuffing Box replaced (2021)
Please feel free to contact us with any questions! I know that emailing a broker can be a bit intimidating. We are happy to chat with anyone who is interested in the boat or “knows somebody who knows somebody” who is looking for a boat like ours 🙂
Sorry to drop this on everyone out of the blue, but we have decided to take a break from living aboard and have made the agonizing decision to put SV Story Time up for sale.
I know that you’re sitting there thinking, “WTF??” Trust me, we are too. It was a sudden decision that came to a head this past weekend while we were sailing. Let me see if I can lay it all out in a way that makes sense and start from the beginning.
When we decided to embark on this journey, it was a new and exciting adventure. It was also a way for us to move forward and focus on something other than our three miscarriages. We had no idea if we would be able to have children and we needed a new dream in case it never happened. Sailing and traveling was a way for us to keep our marriage strong during difficult times.
Lo and behold, as we were in the process of buying Story Time, we found out that my fourth pregnancy was viable! Baby on board it was, and I don’t regret a second of it. We have loved raising our family onboard this incredible boat. Our life at Gottschalk marina was filled with so much joy and connection to our special community. We learned that we LOVE minimalist living and can face challenges and discomfort head-on.
We just celebrated 4 years living aboard. In those 4 years, we have lived in two states and brought home 2 babies to this boat. Originally, we were only supposed to be dockside for 2.5 years while Conor finished his Camp Lejeune billet. Then he had to extend a bit. Then COVID hit. And here we are, four years later and STILL a year out from heading down to the USVI. However, we were able to pay off the boat and add to our family during this time.
Which brings me to this past weekend.
We sailed the boat across the mouth of the Chesapeake this weekend to an anchorage that looked pretty neat. It was the first time sailing with just the four of us. When we moved from NC to VA, we motored up with ICW and R was still a tiny baby who liked to sleep in a wrap the entire time. Well, that tiny baby has turned into a full-fledged handful and there are just not enough adults onboard to make this a safe situation anymore.
Sailing was supposed to be a team effort between me and Conor. It was do-able with one kid, but with two kids, it leaves one parent totally occupied dealing with the kids and the other parent solo-sailing. The conditions over the 4th of July were a bit rolly, but nothing extreme like a pop-up storm or an emergency, and we struggled. It really fucking sucks to admit this.
The kids are just too little to be safe down below when we are on the lean. They need to be older to make this work and be active participants instead of safety hazards in the cockpit. If we had an extra set of hands or crew, we could still realize this dream. But the boat is not big enough for crew. It left us with the realization that at this moment, with this boat, it cannot work.
We are not willing to remain dockside for another four years and wait for the kids to get big enough. This boat deserves to be sailed. So, we are taking an intermission and plan on moving abroad to Europe for a few years.
Europe was always the plan after we were done being full-time liveaboards, but we decided to use it as a pause before we return to the boating lifestyle. The good news is that the second time around, we will be starting the journey with YEARS of experience under our belts. We will know exactly what to look for in a boat, how we want to split our time, and set ourselves up for a successful adventure as a family instead of pushing through with the wrong fit. I am looking heavily into catamaran sailing. We are also able to charter and captain a boat anywhere in the world and live out some vacation dreams in the interim. To be honest, it will also be nice not to have to hold our breath for 6 months out of the year waiting for a hurricane to hit. 3x in 3 years on the east coast has been exhausting, and it is only getting worse in the Caribbean.
I am feeling so many mixed emotions. The certainty that it would be selfish of me to insist we continue down this path at this stage in life. The feeling of failure that we didn’t make our “end goal” with Story Time. Contentment that we know we will get where we want to go, just on a different boat at a different time. Frustration that we can’t do it right now. Excitement to try something new. Guilt at selling the only home my babies have ever known. Exhaustion at the process of selling the boat. Gratitude for a loving husband who is by my side through it all. Tears, tears, tears. So many tears.
I’m still going to call this blog Cannons to Cruising and will still be documenting our lifestyle on here. Like I said, we WILL be returning to the ‘cruising’ aspect of this, but you might have to read about traveling through Europe for a while before we loop back around! Thanks for sticking by us and all your support through the years. I hope all of this makes sense.
I know I’m behind on posting once again, but a lot has happened in the past month!
Firstly, Conor was gone for 3 weeks in California. Hence, my lack of time/motivation/energy to write anything while juggling home life. BUT it brings me to my second point—
Nana and Papa came to visit! We were lucky enough to have them here while Conor was away to help out with the kids. They recently transitioned to living in their renovated van (I’ll write a separate post about that soon!) and are enjoying the mobile life. I can’t wait to show you pictures of their sweet setup. The kids loved having their grandparents up in the parking lot and I loved having the extra hands. They will be popping in and out over the next few months as they travel extensively around the east coast. If you want to check them out, their website is opentoabundance.com and Instagram @opentoabundance.
Thirdly, WE PAID OFF THE BOAT! Yep, SV Story Time is OURS. We celebrated with champagne on the bow and poured some out for Neptune’s blessing. It was a pretty surreal milestone that we have been dreaming about for four years. A big part of this was putting our housing allowance toward the boat while living in Camp Lejeune. Now that there is no longer a lien on the boat, we have complete freedom to sail anywhere, which brings me to my last announcement—
WE HAVE A TIMELINE. Get ready, folks. Life is about to get a lot more interesting in 2022. I’ll lay it all out for you soon once we have ironed the details out, but it looks like we will no longer be in the U.S. by November 2022.
Anyone else feel like change always happens in rapid fire? Day by day it is mostly the same, then all at once, life gets overhauled. After months of not a whole lot happening, we are excited to delve into planning mode!
We feel the true meaning of the word ‘boat’ as we aim to put the entirety of our tax return toward Story Time’s pre-season maintenance. This past week, the bimini and dodger got some TLC from Little Bay Canvas. They replaced a few pieces of cracked Eisenglass, tightened seams, and fixed hardware (Cost: $650). Then, West Marine had a 30% off dock lines sale, so OF COURSE we had to get in on that as well. Some of our dock lines came with our boat when we bought it, so we were past due to replace them all (Cost: $415).
Next items on our list:
New seals on hatch windows
Possibly haul out+antifouling on hull
Troubleshoot chart plotter
Patch the dinghy
Clean anchor chain
Service AC unit
Change oil/fuel filter
Power wash deck
Replace fresh water pump
Clean cockpit lockers (yuck)
Some of this is yearly maintenance, some of it should be done every 3 to 5 years. This will be our 4th summer on the boat, so we have to start thinking about the long-term chores that we’ve been avoiding up until now (thanks, babies!)
What’s really killing me is having to spend so much time doing all this when we haven’t left the dock in four months. Expenses don’t feel quite as painful when we can get out and actually enjoy the boat for its intended purpose, but the weather has been absolute crazypants this winter/spring. This week alone it went from 82 degrees and 30mph wind to 45 degrees within 12 hours.
It can’t be anchor outs and sundowners all the time, I guess. Hopefully, we will toast to getting this massive list completed before the sailing season really kicks off. To inspire us to get our butts in gear, we have been watching SV Delos from the beginning on YouTube. I’d seen their videos here and there over the years, but never consecutively. They are basically the OG cruising vloggers and have been going strong for over a decade. With our own cruising dreams within grasp now that Conor is no longer active duty military, I’m starting to get a little giddy. After all, who can put a price on dreams?
Sometimes I feel like a bloodhound on Story Time. I’m actually more useful than Scout! For whatever reason, anytime there is a problem on the boat, I usually smell it first. Conor lives in fear of when I catch a scent, because inevitably, it leads to more boat problems for him to fix.
I saved our butts twice when our AC electrical box overheated. In October, the central air was running, and it suddenly smelled like bacon. I called Conor at work and made him come home. At first it seemed like an overreaction, but it was discovered that one of the wires had started to melt and it was a fire risk. The second time it happened (in January), the fuse holder overheated at 3am. My brain screamed at me that something wasn’t right, and I woke up from a dead sleep to that same scent. For anyone freaking out right now, we now have a new Mermaid Air AC electrical box. Even the manufactures couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it—it was just some freak thing! It had been working fine for 2 years before and suddenly decided to crap out. Very scary!
In other instances:
Conor cooking on the stove. Me: “Babe, the propane is low.” Him: “Did you check it today?” Me: “No, I just smell the difference.” Lo and behold, time to change the tank.
Opening the fridge. “Oh shit. R must have kicked the switch panel during his diaper change.” Yep. Thankfully, it was off less than 2 hours and we didn’t lose the groceries.
Watching TV. “Bilge pump isn’t working.” I guessed it. The automatic float switch stopped working (suuuuuper old) and needed a replacement. I scrubbed the bilge after Conor wired in a new one.
And everyone’s favorite: “Holding tank is getting full.” “I don’t smell anything!” “We have three more flushes. Trust me.”
To sum up: boats are quirky and have unique smells. If you are tuned into them, it can warn you of minor problems before they become MAJOR problems. I’ve lived in fear of COVID for obvious reasons, but what really petrifies me is the possibility of losing my sense of smell! I never realized how much I’ve relied on it to sense the inner workings of the boat until there was a chance I could lose it. Counting down the days until I can get the vaccine.
And baby makes 4. Baby brother arrived this week just one day after his due date, and we are over the moon that he is finally here!
Labor was much quicker and easier this time around. After a 17-hour labor with W, less than 8 hours with baby boy felt like a dream. We got to the hospital in the middle of the night, I was already 8cm, was whisked up to the delivery room, and a little later I pushed for 15 minutes and he was out! Not to say it didn’t hurt, but I had so much more energy this time around and knew what to expect.
Giving birth during a pandemic was a little different. Options for pain meds were limited. I was able to use just nitrous oxide for pain management the first time around, but for this birth the hospital said it was epidural or nothing due to Covid risk. I opted for nothing, especially when the anesthesiologist introduced herself as the “student anesthesiologist”. Hell no. We were hoping to bring our doula in (zachthedoula.com) but because of the 1 support person rule, he couldn’t come to the hospital with us but helped me labor at home.
Baby boy came out alert and healthy. My recovery has been easy, and I feel almost back to my old self after just a few days. He was back to his birth weight by day 3, so high-fives all around!
W has completely embraced her role as big sister. She calls R “my baby!” and holds him every second she gets. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though, because she still has those big toddler emotions to process and has been taking it out on Mom and Dad. We are trying to find our routine and new normal, but we are tired. Up all day with a toddler, up all night with a newborn.
This whole 2 kids thing is no joke. At least everything we need is always within arms reach on the boat! I do feel like we are just doing tiny living and not liveaboard life because we haven’t used the boat for her intended purpose since July. This season of life is so fleeting, though, and soon our tiny newborn days will be over forever. Trying to find moments to embrace the here and now of this stage and freeze the memories.
Wishing our families and friends could be here with us to celebrate the new arrival. Thank you, everyone, for your love and support.
TS Isaias was forecasted to stay a tropical storm, then it became a hurricane, dropped back down to tropical storm, became a hurricane again, was supposed to hit South Carolina first, ended up making landfall in North Carolina, and skirted past the New River (a little too close for comfort) as a Category 1. It just goes to show how annoyingly unpredictable these weather systems are.
We made the decision to ride out the tropical storm on the boat this time. After evacuating twice in the last two years, I decided that there was no way the odds would land another hurricane on North Carolina three years in a row. HA. Thanks, climate change.
The last week had been dedicated to preparing for hurricane season anyway. We took down our headsail, put the dinghy up on dry-dock, went through our checklist, etc. The only inconvenience for Isaias was taking down the bimini and putting out extra storm lines/snubbers.
Our decision to stay was based on a few factors:
The storm was very fast-moving and would be past us within 4 hours.
It hit us in the middle of the night (W actually slept through it all!)
Story Time had proven herself the past two years riding out Florence and Dorian with zero issues.
Our marina is in a good hurricane hole.
Other liveaboards stayed as well and would have been able to help in an emergency.
It was quite the experience to ride out Isaias onboard. We definitely won’t stay for another hurricane, but I think we made a good choice based on the information we had at the time. By the time we knew it would stay a hurricane, we had already committed to remaining onboard. The scariest part was the NOISE. The wind was howling. Apparently, we had a lot of side to side movement (our neighbor said Story Time’s mast looked like a metronome) but down below it didn’t feel too bad. It was reassuring to remember that our 4’10” keel helped our boat do exactly as it was made to do. Our boat felt incredibly secure riding the storm—completely watertight, leaning into the elements, and safe inside a well-proven slip.
The eye passed by us at 3am and I finally fell asleep. No damage in the morning, except base lost power until around 1pm. A tree fell in the marina parking lot, but miraculously missed any cars or power lines. Very little storm surge because Isaias went by so fast. I’m just glad I didn’t have a hurricane/pandemic baby! Looks like he is content to stay put a while longer.
People thought we were crazy the first time around. Now that we are just weeks away from adding a second, everyone has asked, “Where are you going to put him?”
What they don’t realize is that everything we already have for W, we would need for baby brother anyway. W took over the whole v berth with books, toys, crib, etc. The changing pad still hasn’t moved from its spot on the navigation center and the stroller resides in the dock box. Playdough, arts and crafts, and snack cups surround the settee. To prep for baby brother, all we needed to do was install the infant car seat, pull out the Lillebaby carrier from storage, find room in the v berth closet for newborn clothes, and put the bassinet by my bed.
The biggest hurdle, however, was where he was going to sleep once he outgrew the bassinet, as W still uses her own crib strapped to the v berth.
A lot of cruising families split the v berth for their kids with lee cloth. Technically, that mattress splits into two twin beds. This is a great plan for older kids, but not ideal for an infant and a toddler. W didn’t sleep through the night until 20 months old, so I didn’t want baby brother following the same pattern and disrupting everyone’s rest.
We couldn’t have him out in the main cabin, so that left our aft bedroom. With our low ceiling, finding room for a safe sleep space proved difficult. Then, we decided to get creative and had a custom mini crib made!
Through word of mouth, I got in contact with an amazing woodworker named Anthony Blinson on Emerald Isle. I sent him measurements for the space above our engine block and the requirements for the project—easily collapsible with side-door access. He had free reign for the rest of the design and came back with the most INCREDIBLE boat baby crib!
Here it is at the woodshop (@Tonyswoodshop514):
Here it is on the boat:
We’ve ordered furniture anchors to secure it to the wall. The crib has just 8 bolts (4 on each side) that unscrew with an allen wrench to dismantle it. The bottom is on a hinge that folds flat. When we need to run the engine, the crib can be disassembled in less than 5 minutes and moved out of the way. It is truly a gorgeous and functional piece of furniture. If you have any woodworking needs for your boat, I highly recommend Anthony’s services, as he envisions and engineers to his customer’s unique needs.
I love that we will be able to keep baby brother in our room for at least the first year, as recommended by AAP guidelines. I love that W keeps her own room (mostly) through this new sibling transition. I love that in the evenings, the v berth and aft cabin doors will close, leaving Conor and I able to cook dinner and watch TV in our own space like adults!
Not to say that there won’t be challenges in the coming months but solving our sleep space problem is a huge weight off. Now, we just sit back and wait for him to show up!
If you had told me at 20 where I would be by 30, I would have laughed at you and said you got the wrong girl. I had aspirations of working in federal law enforcement, and though I hoped to be married, I had no plans for kids until after 30. I thought yoga was just a boring way to stretch. A part of me thought I would be a cheerleader forever. Grades mattered more than experience. I was afraid of breaking any rules. I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I tried to do everything the ‘right’ way.
Who is this woman? Mother of two. Twice-published author. Lives on a SAILBOAT?
Over the past 10 years, this person has moved from the Northwest, to the Midwest, to the California coast, and all the way to North Carolina, meeting and connecting with people from all walks of life. She has survived and thrived through her husband’s multiple (and sometimes back-to-back) deployments. She learned what the terms ectopic, missed miscarriage, and recurrent loss meant all too well. She was rejected 237 times trying to make writing her career. She decided not to be afraid anymore and to redefine what’s normal. She discovered that happiness could be packed into 38 feet, with her husband and children within arms reach, on an adventure together.
This decade did not happen how I thought it would go. Honestly, how boring would it have been if it had? Instead, it was such a transformative journey that forced me to examine my own expectations, and more importantly, challenged me question why. This process of self-discovery led me in a completely different direction than the path I picked out for myself. Though at times it was uncomfortable and even painful, I am forever grateful to have gone through it, especially now instead of thirty years from now. This process of understanding my truest self will be ongoing throughout my life and ever-changing.
The only thing scarier than change is everything staying the same. I am going to embrace turning 30 tomorrow, thankful that it will give me new opportunities to grow. Who knows what is in store? I want to show my kids the world. I want to actually make some decent money with this writing gig. I want to tell my adventure buddy that I love him every day. I can’t wait to see what this next decade will bring, but with the understanding that although I cannot control the wind, I can adjust my sails. Cheers (& beers, when I can drink again!) to 30 years.